Sabres Strength of Schedule Analysis

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

This is my first (and maybe only) Fanpost. Hope you like it.

If you are like me, you might have wondered if the Sabres recent strong play against good teams might mean that the Sabres record against the better teams in the league might be better than their record against the lower teams in the league. I don't know if this is covered elsewhere so what I did is looked at all of the results for the 2021-2022 season and compared the strength of schedule for Sabres wins and losses. Overall, I think the great March run and the recency effect contributed primarily to this impression rather than the actual results. However, relative the league, it appears the Sabres performed relatively better than the league against playoff teams. Here is some data.

Sabres Overall W/L record vs teams in the playoffs vs out of the playoffs (as of end of play April 8)

In Playoffs 39 12 22 5 0.372
Not In Playoffs 34 14 14 6 0.500
73 26 36 11 0.432

The Sabres have grabbed 37% of possible points vs playoff teams, and 50% vs non playoff teams - so they did have a better record vs non-playoff teams. That of course is to be expected, and is certain across the entire league. The overall record for playoff/non playoff teams is shown below.

Strength in and Out GP W L OL Pct
In Playoffs 2775 1709 793 273 0.665
Not In Playoffs 2418 946 1190 282 0.450

This is where its relatively interesting. If in-playoff teams have a points percentage of 0.665, it would imply their opponents have a point percentage of 0.464 (due to loser points, the average points pctg for the other 31 teams this year is .565). So vs playoff teams, the Sabres at a 0.372 record which is ~0.09 less than the league average. Whereas non-playoff teams have a 0.450 avg - and there opponents would then have a 0.680 average. The Sabres are 0.500 vs non playoff teams, which is 0.18 less than the league average. The Sabres are currently 23 points out of a playoff spot. The math would suggest that to get to league averages they needed 7.22 more points from playoff teams (0.09x39) and 12.23 points from non playoff teams 34x0.18. That is 19.45. That's not quite 23 points but close and taking those points would have take some points away from teams above them.

What does this tell me? To improve and get in the playoff hunt next year, its not that they need to massively improve vs the good teams. Just the last two games they almost got 4 more points vs playoff teams, but they absolutely need to get the points from the teams lower in standings and not get swept by Seattle (0-2), New Jersey (0-1-1) and similar results.

Here are few other stats I found interesting.

Sabres strength of opponent schedule by month.

Month GP W L OL Sabres PCT Opp Pctg Target Pctg Difference
October 8 5 2 1 0.688 0.503 0.627 0.06
November 14 3 9 2 0.286 0.541 0.589 -0.30
December 10 2 6 2 0.300 0.596 0.534 -0.23
January 12 4 6 2 0.417 0.523 0.606 -0.19
February 10 2 7 1 0.250 0.525 0.605 -0.35
March 14 8 3 3 0.679 0.618 0.511 0.17
April 5 2 3 0 0.400 0.699 0.430 -0.03

This shows a couple of things. First Sabres results by month. As we know - great start - then floor falls away for Nov-Feb, with the March resurgence.

It also shows opponent strength by month. April is only 5 games old and we know its been against tough teams - other than that - you can see March was toughest month (opponents 0.618) and one of the team's best months. They actually gained 2.5 pts vs what is needed to make playoffs, whereas they lost 4.2 pts in November and 3.6pts in February. In February they had the easiest schedule (except October) and the worst results. They were already out of the playoffs more or less but that was depressing.

The strength of opponents the rest of the way 0.534 so should be an easier stretch. If they play average - they should get 11 points (10.72 actually) which would end the season at 74 points.

Finally, here is the overall W/L record for opponents based on whether the Sabres won or lost.

GP W L OL Pctg
W 1849 894 746 209 0.540
L 3344 1761 1237 346 0.578

Have a good rest of the weekend.

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.